|Now Law: Quijano & Mazzeo Bill to Regulate the Use of Drones in NJ Passes Both Houses
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano and Vince Mazzeo to regulate and prohibit, under certain circumstances, the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, commonly referred to as drones, was signed into law on Monday.
“Drones have become increasingly disruptive, causing near-misses with airplanes, interfering with firefighter operations and being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This law sets specific guidelines for how New Jersey’s residents are able to utilize these devices to establish some order and help prevent these dangerous situations.”
“Drones can be fun, but they have the potential to be dangerous if not used correctly,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Establishing clear guidelines about how they can and cannot be used can help preserve public safety and prevent people from using them as criminal accessories.”
Under the new law (S-3370/A-5205), it will be a disorderly persons offense to operate a drone:
The law also stipulates that it will be a fourth degree crime for a person to knowingly or intentionally:
Fourth degree crimes are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Under the new law, it will be a third degree crime for a person to knowingly operate a drone to conduct surveillance of or gather information about a correctional facility. Third degree crimes are punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
The law also prohibits a person from operating a drone for the purpose of hindering or preventing the lawful taking of wildlife, and would provide that it is a violation of a restraining order or any other court order restraining contact with a person or location for a person who is subject to that order to operate a drone within a distance of a person or location that would violate the order.
The law provides that an owner or operator of a critical infrastructure, including a political subdivision, could apply to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pursuant to the “FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016,” in order to prohibit or restrict the operation of drones in close proximity to the critical infrastructure. Finally, the provisions of the law will preempt any law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation adopted by the governing body of a county or municipality concerning the private use of a drone that is inconsistent with this new law.
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